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With Coronavirus a Threat, Stop Wearing Contact Lenses

Even if you're already wearing a face mask to cover your mouth and nose, taking steps to protect your eyes might also help guard against coronavirus infection, eye health experts say.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recently revealed that conjunctivitis—aka pink eye, an irritation of the eye that can cause redness, swelling, and discharge—may be a rare, early symptom of COVID-19. Now, the AAO is issuing a number of coronavirus eye safety tips—and one includes opting out of wearing contact lenses because people who wear contact lenses tend to touch their eyes more than the average person.

The AAO also urged everyone to avoid touching their face or rubbing their eyes. "If you feel an urge to itch or rube your eye or even to adjust your glasses, use a tissue instead of your fingers," said Dr. Tuli. He also added that, because dry eyes can lead to rubbing, it may be wise to add moisturizing drops to your routine, if you're prone to dry, itchy eyes. Those with seasonal allergies are also at a higher risk of hand or eye touching.

If you absolutely must touch your face or eyes—handwashing is key: "Hand hygiene is more important than ever. That means thoroughly washing hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, and then properly drying them with a clean towel. 

Other preventive measures surrounding coronavirus and eye health include not sharing eye drops or cosmetics right now, says Dr. Lee. "It's possible for the tip of the eye dropper or mascara to be contaminated by coming into contact with the ocular secretions of someone who is COVID-positive," he says.

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